Tag Archives: Trump

The Trick Play: Deceptive Tactic Designed to Fool Opposing Team (Iran) and Viewers (US Public)

Administration Escalates Threat Against Iran While Making it Seem Just the Opposite.

Today arrives the next step in the escalation against Iran. Headline: Pompeo offers to talk to Iran with no preconditions.

This is the age-old playbook for escalating tensions. The subterfuge is designed to make it appear that we are easing our stance, to make it seem like Donald Trump is the restraining force on his overzealous war mongers, but in reality this puts more pressure on Iran. And as usual the media is either complicit or just plain oblivious, either way they aren’t serving us. Note the first line in the Politico piece below:

“His (Pompeo’s) remarks suggest increased flexibility by the Trump administration. President Donald Trump’s desire to avoid a war with Iran appears to be prevailing in his own administration — for now…”

He then went on to demand a precondition:

Reuters: “The United States is prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions about its nuclear program but needs to see the country behaving like “a normal nation”, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.”

Guardian: “But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would not negotiate with Washington, even after Rouhani had previously signaled talks might be possible if sanctions were lifted.”

Al Jazeera: “Ruohani says Iran will not be bullied into negotiations with tightened sanctions and threats by Washington”

AP: “But the United States will not relent in trying to pressure the Islamic Republic to change its behavior in the Middle East, America’s top diplomat said.”

This is why they pulled out of the nuclear deal in the first place- to isolate the moderates. Knowing full well that the moderates can’t talk and the hard liners won’t, they will now pose themselves as the good guys– we tried everything, including offers of no conditions, but it’s Iran that won’t negotiate because they want Nukes, so we have no other choice. If you look back at what was happening right before we invaded Iraq you’ll find much of the same – Saddam: if you’ll just negotiate on the WMDs, tell us where they are, we can make a deal. Of course, the WMDs didn’t exist.

Reuters: US Prepared to Talk To Iran Without Preconditions. Iran Sees Wordplay

Updated June 22, 2019: 

President Trump called off an airstrike against Iran yesterday at the the last minute. The retaliatory action was over Iran’s downing of a US drone earlier in the week. The story has it that the military had launched the attack and the bombers were in the air heading for their targets but in a moment of contemplative restraint Mr. Trump called it off, saying that the proportionality of the impending Iranian deaths would be above the level of the original crime committed by them. In the following barrage of press interpretations of his actions we’ve heard everything from ineptitude, poor planning, mental instability and his dilemma regarding his campaign stated aversion to war.

My belief is that this is yet another stage in the effort to turn domestic public opinion in favor of action against Iran. Once again the illusion is that Trump is the last firewall keeping the circling hawks, some with long-standing agendas, from leading us down the path to war in the middle east. Trump is now made to look like the good guy, this time much to the relief of even his staunchest opponents. Even Nancy Pelosi praised his actions. It’s basically a game of chicken, but it is being played with US domestic public opinion as the ultimate prize. As I mention above, this is similar to events leading up to the Iraq invasion, where there was a media campaign designed to make it look like we were continually offering Saddam a way out, only to finally run out of patience with his refusal to turn over the non-existent WMDs. Even though we had surrounded him he was the bad guy who just wouldn’t adhere to the norms of international law and order (ie American hegemony).

Not even Fox News believes the “unlikely” story:

Fox’s Chris Wallace, Shep Smith Cast Doubt On Trump’s Iran Strike Claims

Now the administration is on record as having offered to talk with no preconditions and we’ve seemingly narrowly averted a military confrontation due to our calmer heads and alleged humanitarian instincts. Incrementally we are becoming the good guys, trying desperately to avoid war, and Iran is the belligerent, targeting our assets and ditching the nuclear deal. The battleship of public opinion is being turned in the administration’s favor. Even if the narrative is believable that events are happening randomly, that it’s not all planned out, the effect is the same. Ball in Iran’s court.

“Cocked and loaded” to strike Iran, Trump says he called off operation when told 150 would likely die

Another supporting thought:

I have heard a lot about Donald Trump needing a war with Iran to prop up his sagging poll numbers. The “rally around the flag” and “wag the dog” arguments. What I haven’t heard too much about is that the US military really needs a war…

Fewer Americans want to serve in the military. Cue Pentagon panic

 

The European Elections, Iran and the Refugee Problem

Here is a sampling of reasons we’ve been given so far for why the US might preemptively attack Iran: Bolton can’t sleep at night until he vanquishes the long standing bugaboo in Tehran, Iran can’t be trusted and are secretly building nukes (WMDs), Iran is suddenly a dangerous threat to our troops and interests in the region, the Saudis and Israelis are pulling the strings and Trump is willing do their dirty work, with flagging popularity both Trump and the military need a war. Perhaps the most plausible strategy, and hence rarely mentioned, posits a new “energy” containment policy aimed at a quickly emerging China (oil war).

There are likely elements of each informing the strategic planning of the war managers. Any theory constructed around oil is invariably partially on target when America starts saber rattling in the middle east. If war does break-out between the US and Iran, or rather if the US attacks Iran, it will likely begin under false pretenses of America’s design. The dispatching of 1500 more troops to the gulf appears to be an exercise in putting more troops in harm’s way, in the hope that some rogue element fires a mortar at them. Iran has a lot of nerve putting their country so close to our bases. In the event of war there is a possible side effect that few are talking about. More refugees.

The EU parliamentary elections are this weekend. From all accounts the nationalist and far-right candidates stand to make gains, putting them in the strongest position politically that they’ve enjoyed on that continent since the end of WWII. Anti-immigrant stances have been a big part of their arsenal. Framed within the 2008 global economic collapse and aftermath, refugees have been the single best performing stock on the world “political” market for the resurgent populist and nationalist movements. The bogeyman portrayal of displaced masses on the march soon to be pounding at the door has produced lucrative capital gains for the barking dogs who disparage them. Across the pond, the Great Director in the US has made it clear on abundant occasions that he does not value the lives of these people on par with those white and western.

The numbers tell a story. At the time of the Rwanda genocide in 1994 the post WWII peak of refugees had reached 20 million. In the years prior to the Afghan and Iraq wars it had declined to approximately 16 million. Then, in the aftermath of 9/11, havoc was unleashed on those countries. Since then, in fifteen years, the number has risen dramatically, currently cresting at around 65 million! If you plot those numbers alongside the global rise of the Right on a graph they closely mirror each other. It was a slower but steady stream for years, much less detectable, but the stories of backlash in places like Germany and Britain were always there, just beneath the headlines. Then Syria boiled over and exploded hundreds of thousands of refugees across borders, tens of thousands flooding into Europe en masse. And presto, Brexit.

9 Maps and Charts on the Global Refugee Crisis

This outcome, I’ll call it the refugee dividend, has been an unexpected boon for the fortunes of the populist nationalist resurgence. It is an easily chartable set of data points. We don’t know what the short-term outcome of a war between the US and Iran would be, although I suspect there will be no battlefield winners, there never are anymore, right? But we do know that a conflagration of that magnitude in the middle east might generate another wave of refugees.

Since the advent of strategic bombing from the air a primary target has always been civilians- Madrid, Guernica, Berlin, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hanoi, Baghdad. For obvious reasons the bombers themselves go to great lengths to claim otherwise. In Iran, where they’ve already taken in close to a million refugees, there is no reason to think that won’t also be an objective. The strain of absorbing and caring for possibly millions more internally displaced people could lead to chaos in the streets. The pressure from which could conceivably “end”  the regime. In Europe, though less likely in the immediate, the addition of more refugees to the already numbing numbers worldwide will only strengthen the straw that could eventually break the camel’s back for the social democratic paradigm, dominant there since the end of World War II. We will find out just how sturdy that camel is this weekend.

This seemingly endless passion play continues to unfold across the globe as scores more become displaced by war, climate change, crime and economic hardship. No theater has been immune- Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and, as we just witnessed, Australia. Surprise! In the EU, we’ve watched the critically acclaimed premiere of Poland’s authoritarian Law and Justice party, in Spain the new far-right Vox party is a promising new cadre of method actors, Italy’s Matteo Salvini is that country’s rising new star script writer, and the hard-line prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, recently hit the big time with his appearance at the Great Director’s playboy mansion, the White House. Marine Le Pen, the darling leading lady and daughter of the famous leading man of the previous generation, looks poised to capitalize on the angry zeitgeist in France’s European elections this weekend. Polls have her even with Macron (also right-of-center). Angela Merkel, the retiring town marshal, is on the her way out of Dodge. Germany is clearly centered in the rifle scope. To quote the Duke– “Out here, due process is a bullet.”

France 24: “during his talk-of-the-town stay in Paris, Steve Bannon provided insight into his larger mission —  “My theory is that political ideas move like capital markets. That’s why I spend so much time in Europe,” he told Le Parisien. “Trump wouldn’t have been elected president without Brexit. It gives an impetus. If populists score higher than 30 percent in the European elections, it will provide that impetus that will help Trump for the 2020 campaign.”

So even if the center holds it may be teetering. Contrary to public utterances, it seems more likely that these avenging angels don’t actually want to end the EU, no, they want to run it. As more and more refugees continue to arrive at the doorstep many of the current, moderate, EU ruling parties will be in a no-win situation. If they close the borders they play into the nationalists, and Donald Trump’s, hands. If they keep them open they risk throwing gasoline on the fire domestically. The far-right and nationalists are poised, just waiting for that glorious Dirty Harry moment– the licensed vigilantes towering over the sniveling liberals– “feeling lucky punks?” Either way it could be a 357 Magnum head shot. Orwellian indeed, but this movie will continue to be in world-wide release during the US elections, and taking that prize would be far better even than winning an academy award for the Great Director and his supporting cast.

UNHCR Figures

 

From the Grave – JFK to DT: Beware of the Bay of Boltons

President Trump may be coming around. Yesterday he said to Iran–“call me…let’s talk…we can make a deal…”
Was the Venezuela debacle effectively his Bay of Pigs moment (my analogy not his)? Orchestrated largely by Bolton and hawks, aided and abetted by false narratives presented by the mainstream media,* failed embarrassingly.

Let’s look at the timeline leading up to the Iran overture statement:
1) Some, if not all, of the so-called Iran intelligence was provided by Mossad – Israeli intelligence. It was not specific. Clearly Israel is not an objective observer.
2) Pompeo cancels Germany trip to go to Iraq – to reaffirm U.S. support for “a sovereign, independent” Iraq, free from the interference of neighboring Tehran. Pompeo meets with Iraq’s president and prime minister.
3) Pompeo cancels Greenland trip to speed back to US “amid rising tensions.”
4) Trump, already stung by the Venezuela swindle, says to Iran– “Call me, we’ll make a deal”- off the cuff? – a signal to Bolton that the gig is up?
Question: what did the Iraqi’s tell Pompeo— maybe something like “we have no sovereignty independent from Iran- our forces failed against ISIS, it was the Iranian backed forces – Badr, Quds, Mahdi – that succeeded. If you try this who will have our back, and what about your back? The country may quickly descend into violent chaos…”

It was probably not a great night at the Bolton dinner table.


Watch: Trump Press Conference – Iran, “Call Me”

* FAIR.Org critique of Venezuela Coup coverage

FAIR.Org Distorting “Democracy” in Venezuela Coverage

Be seeing you….

Remembering The Stand In The Schoolhouse Door

The milestone incident known as the stand in the schoolhouse door took place fifty-three years ago today, June 11, 1963, at the University of Alabama, when Alabama’s Governor George Wallace attempted to physically block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from enrolling in the university. It was one of the crucial moments in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and a shining example of graceful leadership under immense pressure. 

Previously, in his inaugural address as governor, Wallace had shouted segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He repeatedly assured his constituents that he would keep his promise and defy any and all federal court orders forcing integration in his state. So on that fateful day he was determined, and honor-bound, to stand his ground. Part savvy politician, part carnival barker, Wallace certainly had a flair for the dramatic and he had staged quite a show for his rabid fans. For his part, Kennedy had to find a way to enforce federal court orders without playing into Wallace’s hands by turning him into a high-profile martyr for the southern racist cause, let alone keep the peace on a campus swarming with white supremacists itching for a fight. The riots a year earlier between whites and national guard troops at Oxford Mississippi over James Meredith had to have been fresh in his mind. (Listen to Bob Dylan’s Oxford Town)

During the stand-off JFK and his brother Bobby were busy working the phones between Washington and their agent at Alabama, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. They were very hesitant to just “kick the governor out of the way.” Their primary dilemma: sending troops too soon might set off violence, but waiting too long might be seen as a retreat. Their solution: Malone and Hood waited out of site under a federal marshals’ protection while Katzenbach went forth to confront Wallace face-to-face on the steps of the admissions building. He calmly and respectfully served the court order and listened to the recalcitrant Wallace’s prepared statement. Kennedy then ordered Katzenbach to turn away, walk back to the students, and escort them to their dormitories. It worked! There was no riot, but also no retreat. Wallace was able to save face with his people and leave the scene. Malone and Hood quietly returned the next day and registered without incident.

Alabama was the last American state to desegregate its universities. Luckily, due to the Kennedy brothers’ resolve and quick thinking under pressure, the Tide went out with a whimper and not a bang. That night President Kennedy went on national television to give a groundbreaking speech. In the age of Trump it is important to hear his words again on this important anniversary…

Watch the great documentary on these days by Robert Drew. I read somewhere that this was the first movie that Obama screened when he entered the White House in January 2009? See it below:

Watch NBC News coverage of the standoff at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963

Read Wallace’s telegram to JFK from one month earlier condemning the use of federal troops in Birmingham